Winning a sale is hard. But losing losing a sale is very easy, and everybody can become an expert in no time! This article is a collection of the worst possible things a salesperson can do. It comes out of personal experience: I’ve witnessed every single one of these happen in one form or another during my sales career. The sales, unsurprisingly, were all lost. I promise to write an article soon which will show you how to lose a sale with grace, and turn the prospect into a customer. In the meantime, sit back, take a sip of your favorite beverage, and enjoy my top 10 ways to lose every sale.
1. Be as pushy as possible.
While prospecting, the easiest way to lose sales is to be pushy and obnoxious. Gatekeepers are there to be trampled on in your stampede to the decision makers. And if decision makers don’t like what you’re saying, a sure-fire way to lose them is to go over their heads.
For that extra touch, make a game out of keeping decision makers on the phone as long as possible if they’re in a hurry. Avoid being professional and booking another appointment, and attempt to do everything immediately. This will make sure they won’t take your call again.
2. Make sure your emails read like War and Peace.
Don’t write concise and clear emails. Instead, make sure your emails are verbose and chock-full of unnecessary words. If they’re shorter than two screen-fulls, copy and paste some of your marketing material (or even some dry Wikipedia stuff. I can recommend the truly staggering Character Mask which has the distinction of being longer than the text it refers to) into them to pad them out. Put in a massive signature with at least 15 links, too. If your mail doesn’t land in the spam folder, you can at least be sure nobody’s going to go through all of that to get to your point.
3. Don’t bother with a call to action.
Another great tip is to avoid a call to action at any cost. Even if you’ve written something interesting and amazing (see the previous point to correct this), make sure they have no way of knowing what to do next. Eliminating a call to action is one of the best ways to lose a sale – if you’re merely providing information without a next step, you can be sure to lose any semblance of interest. If your prospect has no idea what to do with this information, they’re more likely simply to drop it.
If you have to put in a call to action, make sure it’s very complex and involved. Simply answering an email shouldn’t be enough. Have them call a number during a 10 minute time slot with at the very least 2 alphanumeric codes to ID themselves. That’ll drive them right off.
4. “Next steps”? How about “surprises” instead?
Everyone loves surprises, right? To lose as much credibility as possible (and thus the sale), make sure you never arrange follow-up calls, meetings, or email. Avoid any kind of follow up at all. Instead, tell them you’ll get back to them, and leave it at that.
As a corollary to this, never discuss their next steps either. Let them stagger around and try to discover what they need to do. Don’t provide advice and don’t give any form of guidance. If you’re really looking to lose a sale, never ever act in a consultative manner. Instead, make them feel that you simply want them to buy and stop bothering you.
5. Railroad in every call.
You know those calls where the obnoxious person on the other side is forcibly pushing the conversation in one direction? I call that railroading a prospect, since you’re pushing them along one path, and don’t offer any flexibility in the conversation at all. If you really want to lose clients, attempt to master this style of call.
If you do it right, the prospect only gets questions they can answer with a “yes” or a “no.” If you’re really good, you’ll leave them no means of escape except hanging up. By no means should you let them get a word in unless you let them – dominate them totally.
Oh, and make sure to interrupt, ignore, and overrule. That’s always a great way to lose a prospect.
6. Prospects aren’t prospects.
On the subject of prospects (well, I’m always on the subject. But this one flows well, so there): if you’re serious about losing deals, start becoming blind to them as prospects. Instead, treat them as seekers of learning – they’re here merely because you have information. Give them enough to fill a reference work, and send them on their merry way, with nary a care about their interests or concerns.
7. Never let your personality come through / try to become a faceless drone.
We’re getting into serious territory now. If all of the previous tips aren’t to your liking, you’ll have to take serious measures to rid yourself of these pesky prospects. You’ll have to change your phone or email persona. Drastically.
Make sure you never say or write anything unique. Use corporate speech as often as possible, and try to make it utterly incomprehensible. Never vary your tone of voice, and never give positive feedback to show them you’re listening. Try to sound bored and disinterested.
8. Become argumentative and take everything personally.
Don’t forget, you represent the company. An insult to them is an insult to you. If they’re unhappy, it certainly can’t be because the company did something wrong. The company is perfect!
Become argumentative at the drop of a hat. Defend your company! If they’re whining, it’s because they’re wrong, and need to be punished. Be the instrument of this glorious war!
Absolute and immediate retribution will ensure the loss of a great many sales.
9. Let them feel you don’t like what you’re selling.
We’re almost there. The penultimate point. All else has failed and you’re still making sales. Somehow. Well, I’m here to help.
Don’t like what you’re selling. In fact, gag at the thought of it. Retch at the name, spit at the product. Don’t, of course, be that direct with the customer. Use subtlety. Use panache. Use the gentle orchestral range of flatulence and raspberries.
Make sure they can tell from your voice, from your tone, from your vocabulary, that you absolutely abhor what you’re doing and what you’re selling. Give them no reason to like your product in any way. You may even want to recommend competitors.
10. Become unavailable.
If all else fails, resort to extreme measures. Simply become unavailable – don’t answer emails, don’t answer the phone, and make sure your colleagues don’t know where you can be reached. If you simply disappear, your prospects will have to go elsewhere.
This concludes my little exercise in contrariness. I hope you got a giggle from it, and, as ever, I wish you all the best.